This is my first post to twoplustwo. I have labelled it a strategy guide but I'm hardly good enough at poker for it to be thought of as expert opinion. I've only been taking poker seriously since February and while I'm consistently profitable, thats probably more due to the fact that I stick to micro limit tables than anything else.
Anyway, yesterday I decided to have a stab at proper tournaments on Pokerstars and since the only one starting within a reasonable period was an Ante-up I decided to try it.
For those who don't know, Ante-up tournaments have a different structure to normal tournaments. The blinds stay constant at $5 (big and small), and the Ante increases every 10 minutes.
The first thing you'll notice when playing an Ante-up tournament is that most of the players have absolutely no idea what to do. It's quite revealing in showing that at micro limit tournaments most players have no conception of how their bets should relate to the size of the pot. Indeed any player with a decent understanding of pot odds will have a huge advantage at the table. Even in the final 50 its not unusual for a couple of players at your table to fold for $5 when the pot has more than $4000 in it.
Finally, please don't take this as gospel. I've only played in two Ante-up tournaments so I'm still fleshing things out. The only reason I'm posting this is that at the moment there don't seem to be any strat guides available. Any advice, corrections or additions will be appreciated.
- Calling the big blind is the equivilent to checking in a normal game. You should never fold to an unraised blind. Even when the antes are at their lowest ($10), you only need to win the pot 1 time in 18 to be getting value for your $5 call and thats assuming that nobody else calls for $5.
- The amount of forced betting is far higher than a regular tournament. To get the equivilent level of betting with no ante, you should multiply the ante by the number of players. That means that a $10 ante is equivilent to a $90 blind total. It also means that the forced betting increases extremely quickly.
- Following from 2 you should always be aware of your m (your stack compared with an unbet pot). If your stack is less than 6 times an unraised pot then you should raise all in if no one has bet (remember calling the big blind is the equivilent of a check).
- Stealing is very profitable and much cheaper than in a regular tournament. It's sometimes possible to win a hand with a 1/4 pot pre-flop raise. Compare this to a normal tournament where you need to raise at least twice the pot to make an effective steal. Remember that position is still important. Many players like to steal from big blind because they are last to act, but the best place to steal is still the dealer button.
- The correlly of 4 is that if you're sufficiently stacked you should generally call raises that are fractions of the pot even with rubbish hands. If you hit, you can suck out your opponent, and even if you don't hit you can still take the pot down if he shows weakness.
As a side note: The first time I played I decided that it would be reasonable to raise twice the pot pre-flop to guarantee a steal. I figured that I would gain an advantage by playing "correctly". However my play looked so out of character for the table that I was pegged as loose/crazy and players started calling me down with marginally strong hands.
- Your skill post flop is far more important than in a regular tournament. If you're following 1 and 5 you'll probably be playing >85% of hands after the flop. Being able to sense weakness or danger is the difference between life or death.
- Even though stealing is cheap, it's quite difficult to isolate against 1 person. Sometimes a 25% pot raise will take down the pot while a 100% raise will leave you with 3 or 4 opponents. Often a steal needs to be combined with a continuation bet or even a check-reraise to take down the pot.
- Big stacks rule. Because the pot is so large pre-flop you need a stack that will allow you to play in as many hands as possible and comfortably bluff whenever you sense weakness. Much more than normal, Ante-up tournaments reward aggression.
- Observation is critical. Work out which of your opponents understand how their bets should relate to the pot and which don't. This will go a long way to telling you whether a raise of %50 of the pot represents a strong hand or a cheap attempt to steal.
Anyway thats it for my first post.
Cheers to all